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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - June 29, 2005

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Ol' Henry has overheard The Paint Crew saying how many folks mention "my" great garden. The corn, pole beans and tall herbs sure do catch your attention! Carrots and a bumper crop of beets are ready now and peas, tomatoes and sunflowers will soon follow. Henry knows from a private taste test that these are super good, tasty vegetables!


Ol' Henry bets you all have seen the activity at 'my' house the past two Saturdays! All the stuff going on really had Ol' Henry confused. Then I overheard Joe and Maynard say something about an orientation video for use when the Stephenson House is open to the public. OK, that explained why the drummer, fife and the Illinois Rangers of 1812 were here. They were all part of a video to show visitors about life at the Stephensons and in Edwardsville around 1820. Wow, they even filmed a 4th of July parade with re-enactors who were townspeople, both grownups and children, dressed in clothes from Col. Ben's time. Col. Ben, the Rangers and the townspeople celebrated the glorious Independence from Britain and cheered for the men who fought for our freedom. Another side of life on the frontier was filmed as Col. Ben and John McKee met on official Land Office business inside the Stephenson House. This was just part of what was filmed on the first Saturday.


Last Saturday Joe and Maynard worked with daily activities that would have happened at the Stephenson House. The filming included Lucy and the female indentured servants as they worked in the garden, and the servants as they baked pies and did the laundry. The male indentured servants re-enacted bricklaying and joinery as Col. Stephenson supervised. Ol' Henry listened and learned that joinery is another word for carpentry. I just keep getting smarter! There was a great scene where the servants had lunch on the porch. Joe and Kathy had cooked a mighty good-looking ham for that scene. And, there were some crumbs left for Henry! The filming included scenes in 'my' house of Lucy serving tea for her friends, a Stephenson family dinner and a seamstress working with Lucy on her new gown. Henry even got to watch as Maynard filmed the bedtime scene as children re-enactors, Emily, Chase, Olivia and Austin, blew out the candles.
From my hidey place I could see that this filming took a tremendous amount of work and time. Many pieces of period clothing were sewn for the people who were re-enactors and food was cooked for a lot of the scenes. It was one great big job to get it all to fall into place! Henry here thinks Joe and Kathy did an outstanding job of organizing and getting the "show on the road" for Maynard to film. This video will be a great one for sure! And, last but not least, a big thanks to the Meridian Society for the grant money to make this video production possible.


The Friends of the Stephenson House once again had a great evening for the Taste of Downtown. The rain came and left, leaving a beautiful evening behind for the Taste. The townsfolk love this evening! Henry and The Friends send a big thank you to everyone who helped make this Stephenson House benefit a success. A big special thanks goes to the Downtown restaurants for the support that makes this "small town" gathering possible. Edwardsville is a great place to live!


Now, Henry wants to remind you about the cookbook The Friends are planning. The Cookbook Committee needs your favorite recipes, old or new! Please send your recipes to The Stephenson House Cookbook, 900 St. Louis St., Edwardsville. From my hidey place Henry heard that this will definitely not be a same ole, same ole cookbook. Look for a creative, interesting cookbook from this group!


The other night Ol' Henry peeped outside and saw that the lights at DQ were down low and a big full moon was shining. So, I took a stroll over to DQ. Ol' Henry just laid back, relaxed and enjoyed the magnificent view of Col. Ben's truly beautiful home, and, of course, thought about the Stephenson family. One story that tugs at Henry's heart is Lucy's financial struggles to keep her home after Col. Ben's death. Last summer Ol' Henry got new information from the folks in Wellsburg. You all remember that Lucy was born in a fort overlooking the Ohio River near today's Wellsburg, WV. Well, the folks in West Virginia are pretty sure that the fort area is the property Lucy inherited from her daddy in 1793. In 1832, 39 years later, Lucy finally sold that land. She sold 272 acres for $300. to William and Campbell Tarr. Ol' Henry thinks it was a very hard and sad decision for Lucy to sell the land and home place where she was born and where her father, "Indian" Swearingen, was buried. Lucy was doing all she could to find the money needed to keep the home she and Col. Ben had built. As we know, just two years later she did sell her home. Elvira Edwards bought it to help her friend Lucy. Lucy was a strong wife and mother and also a strong independent widow that many loved and depended on. Henry here is a sentimental old mouse and thinks Lucy was making a real sacrifice when she sold the Swearingen family land near Wellsburg. She was doing what she felt was needed. One strong lady!


Well guys, Sid and a big class of SIUE students are outside working on an excavation. I better get out there and find out what is going on so I can give you firsthand information!


See ya' later,
Henry


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